Lipinski's Bill Cracking Down on Customs Cheating by Foreign Companies Becomes Law (February 24, 2016)

Congressman Dan Lipinski’s (IL-3) bill that cracks down on foreign companies cheating Americans by illegally avoiding customs duties has become law.  Today, the President signed a comprehensive customs reform bill, H.R. 644, that includes Lipinski’s Customs Training Enhancement Act, H.R. 2015.  The provision facilitates companies and trade groups sharing information with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, enabling the government to do a better job of identifying schemes that cheat American taxpayers by importing foreign goods without paying duties.  This will help American manufacturers grow their businesses and add jobs, while also collecting hundreds of millions of dollars owed to American taxpayers for infractions of U.S. laws. 

“America’s manufacturing workers and taxpayers have been taken advantage of for too long by foreign companies that break our trade laws and evade Customs enforcement,” said Rep. Lipinski.  “My bill will help level the playing field so American manufacturers have a fairer shot against their foreign competitors.  Cheating by foreign firms has become more widespread at a time when American employers and workers are already hurting.  Allowing impacted industries to provide Customs agents with the critical intelligence they need to spot cheaters is just common sense.” 

Under Rep. Lipinski’s provision, Customs and Border Protection would be required to seek out companies and trade groups that have information that can identify misrepresented shipments.  That information, in turn, would be shared directly with Customs agents working on the front lines.  TheCustoms Training Enhancement Act is modeled on a successful program forged between the steel industry and Customs and Border Protection in which company and industry officials have taught Customs agents how to spot products that have been deliberately mislabeled.

Since 2001, importers and exporters of goods into and out of the United States have avoided paying over $600 million in duties, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.  Ninety percent of all transshipped or mislabeled items originated in China.  Foreign companies have avoided duties by misclassifying and undervaluing products, or by shipping goods from one country to another on their way to the United States in order to disguise the country of origin.